GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Raiders had two weeks to prepare for Aaron Rodgers.
He had six days to prepare for them.
Talk about a mismatch in favor of the Packers quarterback.
Rodgers on Sunday embarrassed the Raiders with the sort of performance that helped create his status as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, accounting for six touchdowns in a 42-24 rout before an announced gathering of 78,160 at Lambeau Field.
He did so on a short week, having played last Monday night against Detroit, and against a side in the Raiders who were coming off their bye.
He did so with his best receiver (Davante Adams) out with injury and others at the position banged up. But all that didn’t seem to matter to Rodgers, who played his finest game in some time against a Raiders defense that couldn’t cover, couldn’t tackle and couldn’t pressure.
It was a perfect storm of artistry and incompetence converging to create a rogue wave that swallowed Oakland whole.
“We didn’t eliminate the explosive plays,” Raiders safety Erik Harris said. “We did uncharacteristic things against a Hall of Fame quarterback. He has seen everything, every coverage. He knows what’s going to happen before it does.
“At the end off the day, as long as No. 12 is back there for them, he’s going to make things go.”
Data suggests that Rodgers at age 35 has transitioned to a level below those considered the NFL’s best, that his lagging accuracy on intermediate throws and inefficiency on play action the last few years had somehow diminished him.
To be fair, his was a difficult ceiling to continue reaching after a 2014 Most Valuable Player award, his second in four years.
It can be hard measuring yourself against some labels, especially one that suggested you might be the greatest quarterback … of all time.
But the Raiders, at least for a day, did their best to place Rodgers back atop one of those exclusive pedestals, often looking like the team (UNLV) they will share Allegiant Stadium with beginning in 2020 when it came to tackling.
Which is to say they weren’t very good at, cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley and safety Karl Joseph especially inept at getting Packers to the ground.
Call it perfection
So when you never make Rodgers uncomfortable (the Raiders had one sack and three hurries) and your linebackers struggle covering much of anyone and miscommunication on the back end leads to receivers running free, this happens: He completes 25-of-31 for 429 yards and five touchdowns while running for a sixth score.
He also offers a single-game franchise record of a perfect 158.3 passer rating while six of his receivers have a catch of 20-plus yards.
And this happens: The dude looks as incredible as ever.
“I still don’t understand how they put that (passer) rating together, but it does sound pretty good,” Rodgers said. “I think this is the most complete game that I have played. I feel like this has been coming. I feel like we had been building toward this.
“I’m feeling more comfortable and (first-year head coach) Matt (LaFleur) is more comfortable calling things for me. We’ve still got room to grow, but this was what we have been looking for.”
It’s not a coincidence that the Raiders’ three wins have come against teams (Denver, Indianapolis and Chicago) not nearly among the league’s best offensive sides, while the three losses by an average margin of 18.6 points have come against high-scoring Kansas City and Minnesota and now Rodgers in flawless rhythm.
Far more questions than answers remain about the Raiders defensively. And no solutions emerged Sunday when it wasn’t Case Keenum or Chase Daniel standing in the pocket as a butcher knife to coordinator Paul Guenther’s chuck roast of a unit.
“We have to be better defensively,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “We can’t play like that … (Rodgers) is tough as hell. Made a few great audibles. Made a couple great throws. He’s one of the best of all time.”
Numbers suggest he hadn’t played like it in a while.
Maybe, but analytics took Sunday off.
Instead, elite showed up.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.